In the rapidly-evolving world of cloud computing, organizations are constantly looking for the best ways to maximize agility and minimize costs. To accomplish this, many organizations—perhaps yours included—have turned to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in order to take advantage of Google’s comprehensive range of innovative services (i.e. big data analytics, AI, machine learning, etc.) and cost-saving opportunities.
But whether you’re already running some of workloads on GCP or have yet to decide which cloud provider makes the most sense for your organization (check out this eBook that compares services between AWS, Azure, and GCP if you’re feeling stuck), you’re bound to encounter challenges with maintaining control over all your cloud services and resource, staying ahead of security risks, and optimizing costs.
But where and how do you get started?
Understanding and managing your GCP costs
Once you’ve developed your cloud strategy and have begun migrating some of your workloads to GCP (learn more about how to develop your GCP strategy here), it’s important for you to turn your attention on understanding and managing your GCP costs. For organizations operating in GCP, although also applicable to one’s multicloud environment as well, establishing a mature cloud financial management function is crucial for driving financial accountability and ownership across teams and projects.
But where do you start? First is understanding GCP’s pricing model. Like other cloud service providers, your total cost of resources and services is dependent on a number of different factors, making your GCP bill both unique and extremely difficult to calculate. A good first step is to take a look at your current resource utilization metrics to see the amount of compute, storage, etc. your applications and services actually need to run on (notice we said actually here, having a safety barrier to make sure you’re not underprovisioned is great, but playing the safety game too well can cost you). Once you’ve got your toes wet assessing current usage patterns, think about longevity—do you know how long you’ll need to be utilizing certain compute resources? If you know in advance that you’ll be letting a workload run for some, you might be in a good place to start thinking about pricing discounts, since they usually involve some level of time commitment… which brings us to our next point.
Understanding GCP’s discount models is another area your financial management function should pay close attention to. GCP’s Sustained Use discounts (pricing discounts applied automatically to VM instances and GPUs running on On Demand pricing) and Committed Use discounts (ideal for long-term workloads with predictable resource needs), are both great cost-saving opportunities GCP customers can take advantage of—just make sure you’re aware of the difference between the two and their respective restrictions (don’t worry, we’ve got a comparison between the two types of GCP discounts here).
Optimizing your GCP infrastructure
Having visibility into your GCP environment is the foundation for a lot of the work you’ll do to grow and mature your cloud—understanding your cloud costs being one of those tasks organizations are likely to tackle first. But having granular visibility into your GCP environment also gives you the ability to easily analyze resource usage metrics, allowing you to find over/underutilized resources, which will present opportunities to improve operational efficiency, reduce waste, and optimize infrastructure costs.
Here are 7 best practices for reducing waste in your GCP environment:
- Deleted unattached persistent disks
- Delete obsolete snapshots
- Delete disassociated network IP addresses
- Terminate zombie assets
- Rightize VM instances
- Run non-production resources on a schedule
- Migrate object storage to lower cost offerings
For more information on these best practices and how you can optimize your GCP infrastructure, read the full eBook here.
How to govern your GCP environment through automation
Building governance policies into your GCP strategy is necessary to ensure your organization is able to scale at both the speed the dynamic world of cloud computing requires, and the pace of your organization’s growth and innovation.
Governance consists of defining your environments ‘ideal state’ so you can monitor and take action when drift occurs. For most organizations, governance policies typically focus on three main areas: cosst, security, and usage. Once these governance rules have been defined, the next step is to automatically alert on, and remediate, as many of these policies as possible.
Implementing automation can be a challenge for organizations because it requires a shift in both mindset and processes, so be sure to start slow and simple. Begin with an approval workflow so that a human has to give the final ‘ok’ before any action is taken before moving forward with more automated workflows.
But why focus on automated governance policies at all? By creating automated actions that complete workflows on your behalf, you remove the need for yourself and others in your organization to work on mundane management tasks and instead regain time to focus on more strategic, innovative projects that will help differentiate your business.
Check out our example cloud governance policies to help you get started.
What it really takes to ensure long-term success in GCP
While focusing on creating a financial management function to help manage costs and building governance policies to automate infrastructure optimization are important to your overall GCP strategy, they alone won’t be able to help your organization become truly successful in the cloud over the long run.
An often overlooked—yet crucial—piece of an organization’s cloud journey, something that only the most successful teams take time to develop and implement, is the alignment and integration of the organization’s cloud strategy with their overarching business objectives. So what does this look like?
Integrate your cloud strategy with your business systems. Try integrating the cloud management platform you use to manage your GCP environment into your organization’s budgeting and accounting softwares so entries for financial chargeback and accruals can flow automatically.
Determine how your cloud strategy contributes to other business initiatives. For example, when thinking about something like security compliance, if there’s a business initiative to achieve or maintain a certain compliance standard, the cloud security team should be involved to make significant contributions on that front. What needs to be done via the cloud security team (or perhaps is already being done but needs to be documented and shared with additional stakeholders) to ensure compliance across the organization.
Align your cloud strategy with your business metrics. Framing GCP metrics in the context of the business has the dual benefit of providing business content to IT and engineering teams and allows business users to more easily understand the impact of your cloud team.
While metrics and charts are great for understanding where your cloud strategy has been and where it plans to go next, they’re nothing without company-wide executive buy-in, extensive and ongoing collaboration across teams and departments, and clear ownership for each functional area of your GCP strategy. These things, while potentially daunting at first glance, will ensure that your organization’s GCP strategy is all encompassing of your business needs and that your organization can scale and mature together.
To learn more about how to build long-term success in GCP, including how to build your Cloud Center of Excellence, check out our eBook.